The NZ Transport Agency has approved a request to use the Auckland Harbour Bridge for a new cycle event that could attract as many as 9000 competitors.
The event, planned to be held on Sunday, 13 November, will involve the closure of the two outer southbound 'clip-on' lanes on the bridge. The NZTA and Auckland Transport have agreed that the organisers can also use the Northern Busway, which will be closed temporarily for the event.
The cycle challenge will start from the Westhaven Marina in the Wynyard Quarter before crossing the harbour bridge to join the busway and continue on to Albany and beyond.
"The cycle event is very much a trial," says the NZTA's State Highways Manager Tommy Parker. "Welcoming an event of this size for the cycling community is an exciting opportunity, and with the event following close to the Rugby World Cup tournament another excellent chance to showcase Auckland."
Mr Parker says the 9000 cyclists participating will be similar to the number of running on the bridge in the Auckland Marathon.
"The high level of planning into the care and operation of the bridge that allows the NZTA to provide temporary access for thousands of runners also applies to the cyclists who will be able to cross the bridge safely as well," says Parker. "We will be expecting event organisers to deliver the same standards of safety and organisation that is achieved each year when the marathon crosses the bridge."
The two outer lanes of the bridge, and the Northern Busway, will be closed until mid-morning on the day of the event. Like the Auckland Marathon, which will be held two weeks earlier, the closures are timed so that any disruption to drivers is kept to a minimum. Public transport services that would normally use the busway at that time of day will be maintained on adjoining roads.
Auckland Transport's Community Transport Manager, Matthew Rednall says the event gives cyclists the opportunity to experience the Northern Busway from a different perspective.
"It also provides a broader opportunity to promote cycling, road safety and the sharing of the road between cyclists and car drivers," Mr Rednall adds.
Mr Parker says the NZTA is aware of the interest from cyclists wanting to ride across the bridge, and an event like this provides that opportunity without compromising the main function of the bridge as the strategic transport link for communities on both sides of the harbour.
"The request from the event organisers - Total Ventures Ltd supported by Cycle Action Auckland - was approved by the NZTA after only careful and deliberate consideration. If November's trial is a success, the cycle challenge could become an exciting addition to Auckland's events calendar," Mr Parker says.
People wanting to register their interest in the event can do so at www.facebook.com/cliponchallenge(external link)